A Magnetic Adventure
Developer: Kostyukhin Timur
Publisher: Alawar Entertainment
Want to try an intriguing set of physics-based puzzles relying on manipulation of magnetism? Then this game from Russia is right up your alley. The cleverness of the challenges is amazing, as they are incredibly diverse and fun and require you to think outside-the-box. Using your mouse, whose cursor is cutely represented by a small magnet, you face the challenge of solving 50 physical puzzles that will be brain-melting in ways you never imagined. Through the gradual ramping up of difficulty at the beginning, you learn within each puzzle to use your magnet to induce movement in metallic elements that you can directly control to affect what transpires with the non-magnetic components that you cannot directly control. A lot of the solutions are counterintuitive, as you have to use available objects for unconventional purposes for which they were not originally intended. The puzzle design is ingenious, and in one of my favorite puzzles you have to operate within a dark room with only a small movable flashlight view available. Your ultimate goal in each puzzle is to free up a “totem” and move it to a specific designated location. Once I began playing this game, which supports widescreen resolutions, I just could not stop.
Puppet Show: Souls of the Innocent Collector’s Edition
Developer: ERS Game Studios
Publisher: Big Fish Games
This title from Ukraine is a sequel to the developer’s earlier hit, Puppet Show: Mystery of Joyville, and it really goes way beyond its predecessor to highlight the full potential of the hidden object genre. The children in a small town fall into a deep sleep, and only really unnerving puppets provide clues to unravel this mystery. It turns out that the evil Felicia is stealing souls, and it is up to you alone to save the town. To accomplish this daunting task, you will find yourself embroiled not only in hidden object searches (located in parts of the play screen that sparkle) but also in other kinds of enticing puzzles (some novel, and some classic), and of challenging mini-games. The artwork is drop-dead gorgeous, incorporating breathtaking hand-drawn scenes, and the spooky background melodies are hauntingly beautiful. The nearby castle you explore is truly a sight to behold. The inventory system is very logically designed, and you will frequently find that something you pick up in one place may need to be used in another. As is typical of this kind of release, your action is completely controlled by the mouse. The mood of the game is both lugubrious and sinister, but the gameplay is so enjoyable that you will quickly find that it brings a smile to your face.
Chicken Invaders 4 Ultimate Omelette
Developer and Publisher: Interaction Studios
Remember Space Invaders and Galaga? Well, this latest release from Greece in the Chicken Invaders series is the most fun arcade space shooter that I have played in a very, very long time. The vicious attacks from the fowl intergalactic adversaries, motivated by revenge for the oppression of their earthly brethren, are inestimable in both number and variety across the twelve star systems you visit. The action (available widescreen) puts a premium on hand-eye coordination as while using mouse or keyboard controls, you destroy chickens, avoid falling eggs and other enemy projectiles, and collect power-ups. There are ten awesome weapons and twelve power levels available. Occasionally your wingman, Hen Solo, may help out. You face ten fantastic bosses, culminating in the ominous Egg Cannon, and fifteen medals and trophies are awarded for outstanding heroism. Cooperative play is available for up to four players, you can compete with others over a LAN or the Internet, and you can try to get on Internet high score tables. The original rousing and invigorating orchestral soundtrack is simply the absolute best. A tongue-in-cheek sense of humor is evident throughout, and kept me chuckling all the way though the frenzied blasting action.